The foundation of any successful planning process is the vision of the future and the ultimate purpose of the plan. The function of a leader in today’s rapidly changing world is to create and communicate to each person with their organization a vision which creates excitement and commitment.
The vision is a statement of the organizational purpose and a description of the "quest" of the organization. It is a verbal painting of what the organization will look like in the future. It describes, in detail, many facets of the organization and articulates the business that the company is in. It speaks in terms of the customer needs that are satisfied rather than merely what the company produces or the services it renders. Also included in the vision is a statement of the organization’s values and principles, which serve as the guiding light for the decisions that must be made on a daily basis, many of which will lay the foundation for the future.
The vision, kept clearly in focus, helps everyone stay on track, while also knowing when to change tracks or add another route. At one point in time, various movie companies stated that they were in the business of producing and distributing movies. When television came along, they viewed this new technology as competition. In time, movie companies redefined themselves as a vehicle to deliver the movies they made to the viewing customer.
The vision needs to address how you see your relationship with:
- Your employees
- Your customers
- Your suppliers and vendors
- The environment
- The community
The vision is a statement of aspiration and potential. It is a description of what your company can become and, when effectively communicated to all employees, provides a common focus.
Another key element of a successful planning process is a statement of the organization’s values and principles. Every day, and throughout the life of the business, decisions must be made. The core values and principles of the organization lay the foundation for all decisions.
We need only to look at one of the most powerful and respected documents in the world, The Declaration of Independence, to realize the importance of a values statement. "We hold these truths to be self-evident…" and the words that follow have guided major national decisions for decades.
An organizational values and principles statement creates the same foundation of integrity for companies as The Declaration of Independence does for the United States of America. It clarifies why you’re in business and defines the important "truths" that guide your actions. It will serve as a guide for all those in the organization, who, through their individual efforts, will collectively achieve the organizational goals. A clear values statement provides the foundation for decisions that an empowered organization will make in the future.
If the primary purpose of a business is to attract and maintain customers in order to generate long term profits or financial viability, issues such as customer expectations, product quality and service must be included in the values and principles statement. Your values and principles should take into consideration how you feel about, and the value you place upon your customers, employees, suppliers and vendors, stockholders and the community and regulatory agencies with whom you conduct business.
The company’s relationships with its customers and employees are of primary importance. Many successful organizations prioritize their focus in the following order:
1. Employee Satisfaction
2. Customer Satisfaction
3. Improving Profitability
If your organization doesn’t have a values and principles statements, then it’s time to create them. Or, if you do but they are out-of-date, then it’s time to refresh them so that they can be relevant, motivational, and aspirational. Good luck and good visioning!